The Treasured Divisoria Dress

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People can go overboard in spending money for their wedding. That’s quite understandable as it is a significant event in a person’s life. After all you only get married once. Or twice, or thrice…..sorry, I digress.

One of the items that people will splurge on is their wedding gown. For instance, Vickie Belo’s gown created by Michael Cinco cost 8M pesos per news report. My wife’s wedding gown? Not quite that expensive. Michael Cinco? No, Cinco Sentimos.

My wife and I had a simple wedding. So simple that we held it in our home in Sampaloc, Manila with only a handful of guests to witness the event. Less than 6 hours before the ceremony we were still in the streets scouring the stores and malls for her dress and shoes that she would wear for the wedding.

I just started my medical residency training in the US at that time. After a couple of months of being away from home, it made me realize how I missed my family, but more importantly my then girlfriend that I left in the Philippines. I also realized that I really love her and wanted to begin our lives together and not apart. So I decided to take a 10-days off (that’s all we were allowed for vacation per year when I was an intern) and I went back home and got married. A flight from JFK Airport in New York City to NAIA in Manila was 17 hours, not including the layovers, so I really had a short time to spend in the Philippines. But sufficient enough to get married.

Our plans for the wedding ceremony was quick but purposeful. With limited financial resources the event needed to be modest, something that would not break the bank. In fact, there was not even a bank to break. For us the outward ceremony is not as important than the journey that we would take together for the rest of our lives.

But we were able to arrange a simple event. We don’t want to burden our family in food preparation, so we got a catering service. Well, if you are feeding only about 25 people it was not that much. One friend of ours was kind enough to decorate our house for the event for free, and she even arranged a bouquet for my wife. Her husband sang “Our Father” during the wedding. A nephew played the piano. Another friend took photos for us to keep. Then we have my wife’s brother who was a minister to officiate the wedding. However he found out hours before the ceremony that his license was expired so he drag his friend who was also a minister to do it instead. If he did not find out in time, our wedding would have been invalid for the officiating minister was unlicensed!

So back to the wedding dress that my wife wore that day. As I mentioned earlier, few hours before the wedding, we were still looking for a dress that she could wear. We went to the mall but we did not find any. That’s when we headed to Divisoria to take our chances. And eureka, we found the dress!

The dress was inexpensive yet it does not seem cheap. It is simple yet elegant. And when my bride wore it later that day during our wedding, I thought she looked like a million dollars. It was her smile and her glow that radiated beyond the dress – it was priceless.

After the wedding ceremony we were dropped by my friend to the Philippine Rabbit’s bus terminal to catch a ride to Baguio for our honeymoon. Two days later we were back in Manila. The next day after that, I was aboard on a plane for the flight back to the US, leaving my newly-wed bride behind. Good thing was that two months later, after visa processing, my wife was able to come to the US and join me.

What we had was really a whirlwind wedding. I blinked and it was over. It was just like a dream.

That was 27 years ago now. And we are still living the dream. Our marriage bond is stronger than ever.

A couple of nights ago as we were celebrating with our children and looking at our wedding photos, my daughter asked where is the wedding dress now. We told her that we still have it in our closet, more precious than Valentino, Chanel, or other company that it keeps. She was interested to see it. My wife told her to try it on and she happily did.

My daughter wearing her mom’s dress

Now my daughter would like to keep it as she said she could wear it for some other occasions. Besides it is not a “traditional” wedding dress.

Seeing my daughter in that dress brought a flood of memories to me. I saw in her, her mother 27 years ago, beaming in that Divisoria dress.

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